I am slightly obsessed by soda bread. I like the flavour a lot, but what I really love is its versatility – you can change the ingredients to give it a completely new character. I am using some rye flour here, which is an unusual addition to soda bread. It produces a slightly more dense loaf and the flavour pairs so well with the rosemary, honey and figs. Oats or a dusting of flour can top off this loaf, but brushing it with honey gives it a sticky sweet crust.
If you’re making your own buttermilk, put the milk and lemon juice in a jug and allow it to sit for 20 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle some flour over it. Then get your hands into the bowl and bring the dough together with a couple of turns. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using your hands, form the dough into a ball with a nice taut top, tucking the edges of the ball underneath so it looks smooth on top. Flatten the ball a little bit with your hand and then pop the soda bread onto the heated baking sheet.
Being careful of the hot baking sheet, dip your wooden spoon into the bag of flour, and place it horizontally on the bread, pushing all the way down to the baking sheet to form the first half of the traditional cross which you soda bread. Change the direction of the spoon so it is at right angles to the other line and repeat this process to create a big cross.
Leave the soda bread to cool a little before serving. This type of bread does not keep for too long and so it is best eaten on the day it is cooked.
© Lorraine Pascale, 2017. Images: © Myles New, 2017.